Pros and Cons of Consular Processing

Applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing indicates that an alien has reached the final step in obtaining a green card. Once an application for an immigrant visa is approved by a consular office, an alien is able to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, which means that he or she can work and live in the U.S. indefinitely.

Deciding whether or not to go through consular processing—the other option you may have, if you are currently in the U.S., is applying for an adjustment of status (AOS)—should be a deliberative process with you, your family, and your attorney. To start your thinking on whether or not this path is right for you, listed below are the most common advantages and disadvantages associated with consular processing.



The primary advantage of consular processing is the relatively quick processing timeline. Compared with the one or two years it may take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to render a decision on an AOS petition, consular processing takes an average of five to 13 months in total.

Certainty and Comfort

There’s an element of certainty and comfort for those who undergo consular processing, since applicants know when and where interviews will take place, and consular officers are more likely to be aware of local customs than would USCIS officers in the U.S. The combination of these two can help in reducing hiccups involved in explaining, for example, technicalities or certain documentation to applicants.

Lower Filing Fees

Priced at $1,140 for adult petitioners, an AOS application is more than double the price of consular application fees, which range from no cost to $345, depending on the type of underlying petition.


In-Person Interview Required

Consular processing interviews cannot be waived, and attorneys are generally barred from accompanying aliens during the interview.

Consular Discretion and Non-Reviewability

Decisions by consular officers as to facts cannot be challenged. There is therefore the potential for re-adjudication or outright revocation of an alien’s initially approved immigrant visa petition. Aliens undergoing consular processing also tend to have less access to consular officials than do AOS applicants with USCIS officers.

Country Condition

Depending on where an alien resides, he or she may be subject to dangerous conditions or subject to additional costs related to traveling from his or her home to a U.S. consulate.

Our Firm is Here to Help

Applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing can be a complex process for most to handle on their own. This is why we recommend you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney about your situation. At Zhang & Associates, our attorneys have decades of experience successfully facilitating consular processing for our foreign-based clients. One of our associates, Sechyi Laiu, spent several years as a consular officer at multiple U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide. Click here to contact our firm for a free consultation today.

For official news and updates on consular processing, click here.

For more detailed information on consular processing, refer to the following links:

Updated 07/31/2017